Communicate your business strategy and gain employee buy in
Build and communicate a business story to explain your background and business strategy, and how to get your employees to champion it
A strategic narrative is a compelling business story that explains your business' background, vision for the future and how employees can contribute to your to business strategy. It can be a powerful tool for improving your business' performance.
A strategic or business narrative can increase an employee's sense of personal attachment to your business by providing a clear link between their role and your business strategy. It can also guide the decisions that your employees make every day to ensure everyone is working towards the same goals.
There is no single way of creating a business narrative - what is appropriate for one business may not be right for you. This guide sets out how you can outline your strategy through your business story, how to involve staff in the development of your business strategy and story, how to communicate your business strategy and narrative and how to update your business story.
Outline your strategy through your business story
How to create a narrative to outline your business strategy
Your strategic narrative or business story should include details of your business origins, how it has got to where it is and how you plan to move forward and grow through your business strategy. Your business story can be written or verbal, shown through images, videos or diagrams. It is a good idea to publish your business story on your company website so that people, including potential customers and suppliers, are aware of your background and future business direction.
Use your story to outline your business strategy
You can use your strategic narrative to help you communicate your business strategy and gain employee buy-in that strategy. You should be clear on the vision for your business, future direction and what inspires you about it. Outlining your business strategy in clear unambiguous terms so that all your staff understands it can help build common purpose across all levels of your organisation.
Map out your business narrative
Mapping out your own thoughts can help you form a framework for the story of your business, which you can then ask senior managers and employees to contribute to or amend. Download a sample structure for a strategic narrative (DOC, 14K).
Work with senior managers to develop a strategic narrative
You need to work closely with senior managers to decide how to tell your business story and develop your business strategy. You all need to make a clear and consistent commitment to communicate and support this business narrative.
Some businesses hold away days for this purpose, others use workshops.
Involve staff in the development of your business strategy and story
How to involve your employees in the development of a narrative and business strategy and how this can benefit your business
Involving your employees in developing your narrative and business strategy can help them make a personal connection to it and strengthen their commitment to achieving your business' goals.
Your narrative has to mean something to your employees so get them involved in telling the story highlighting key milestones you shared together along the business journey such as winning key contracts, business awards or launching new products or services. It has to be about more than facts and figures. You could make it more personal by including photos or videos of various staff members and their contribution to your business over the years.
How to get employees involved
There are many methods you can use to involve your employees to contribute to your company story and business strategy. Here are some approaches you could consider:
- hold a workshop or series of workshops for employees to help them contribute to the business narrative - download a sample format for a strategic narrative workshop (DOC, 18K)
- ask employees to submit their views - for example - you could set up a suggestions box or create a diary room and invite employees to give their views on three or four questions about your business
- involve employees who work remotely or from satellite sites - try to visit them or organise conference calls
- identify employee engagement champions in different departments or teams who can identify and share examples from their parts of your business - they can have a key role in linking managers with the ideas and experiences of employees
With any method you use - collate the results, identify key themes and discuss them with your employees.
Communicate your business strategy and narrative
How to communicate your business strategy and narrative to employees
You need to communicate your strategy and business story to build common purpose across your organisation and to guide everyday behaviour from your employees.
How to communicate your business strategy and story
- publish your business story on your website along with photos or videos to help bring it to life
- make your business narrative document freely available for all employees eg through your intranet
- publish a summary of your business strategy and strategic narrative on a range of materials for your workplace eg posters, postcards, business cards, desk-drop leaflets or screensavers
- include regular features or case studies in internal newsletters - or on the intranet if you have one - to show how employees have used the business values to inform their decision-making
- be creative in how you communicate your narrative - eg use graphics, photos, maps or timelines to illustrate your business' past, present and future
- hold a regular meeting for all employees - eg every six months or annually - to communicate your strategic narrative and its link to business plans - and give everyone the chance to ask questions, raise any concerns and feed into the business strategy and narrative
- arrange a conference call for any employees who can't attend your regular meetings, are based in global locations or who work remotely
- link new internal programmes back to the strategic narrative - eg briefings on new products
- make sure that you communicate your narrative to every new employee so they understand the business culture and its importance from the start eg make it a key part of the induction process - see induction programme: what to include
Update your business story
Help employees build a personal attachment to your narrative by encouraging individuals or teams to tell their stories
To help employees build a personal attachment to your business story encourage teams to tailor the strategic narrative to fit their area of work. Keep involving your employees in updating your story so that it evolves and includes new examples, case studies and opportunities to celebrate and highlight success.
Tailor strategic narrative to specific teams
Teams may want to do this by:
- developing their own team-focused summary statement of what the strategic narrative means to them and their work
- writing articles for internal publications, blogs or the intranet on how their team is using the narrative
- hosting lunchtime seminars for others to explain their role and the way in which they support the narrative in their everyday work
- filming their own take on the business narrative or what key elements mean to them to be shown in communal areas or as part of a video gallery for the staff intranet
- working together to strengthen the link between the narrative and everyday activities giving you their views, examples and achievements